Adventure | Wild Camping in Dartmoor – Day 1

I’ve always been the adventure type. A two-week trek around America’s west coast a couple of years ago was the first time I was able to feed my love of the outdoors and ever since I’ve craved for more outside activities that push my body and mind to the limit. I’m 100% obsessed with watching Bear Grylls and Planet Earth episodes so when my brother mentioned he was going to Dartmoor with my cousin for 4 days of wild camping, I asked if Brent and I could join them.

Initially a 4 day trip, it was unfortunately cut short which I shall explain later but for those who are unsure, wild camping is entirely different to normal camping. There’s no camp site, no facilities and no one else around. You hike to your destination, find a suitable camp and set up for the night to then move on to the next place the following day. And yes, there aren’t any toilets.

I’ll be honest and say that prior to this trip I hadn’t heard of Dartmoor, I always look for places outside of the UK to go too so when I looked up pictures, I was shocked that such a vast untouched space was in the UK. Just getting to Dartmoor, Postbridge (a tiny, tiny village) it meant driving around back country lanes for about 20 minutes and a further 10 over loads of hills.

2PIN IT! 3PIN IT! 4PIN IT! 5PIN IT! 6PIN IT!My brother was chief navigator, equipped with 2 compasses and a map we set off north of the National Park information hut towards Fernworthy Forest to set up camp for the night. The whole day it was raining, the light misty type that seeps right into your clothes and before you know it you’re drenched. We had waterproof bags, raincoats, waterproof covers for our bags but it wasn’t enough. We hiked for about 8 hours in total which included a river crossing. We all worked together to suss out the best route across the river. Mark (my brother) found one and went first, he then navigated us across. I had two cameras strapped on my front and all my stuff on the back so when I was crossing I was so nervous as I didn’t want to fall in and ruin the cameras. It wasn’t deep enough to hurt us really bad but a puddle is enough to damaged cameras. I felt really proud after the crossing, I kept my nerve and concentrated really hard as to where my feet were going, was so much fun.

We finally arrived at Fernworthy and set off to find a suitable camp site for the night. Somewhere out of the rain, wind and freezing cold air. We came across a couple of sites that were okay, but didn’t look great. We then stumbled across a place where someone had previously camped as there were stones surrounding a fire, a big log as a bench and hidden wood stacks in the bushes behind. We got our tents out ready to put them up when we discovered the pegs wouldn’t go into the ground. There must have been stones underneath that area as we couldn’t get into the ground anywhere. After all day of trekking and the hope of a camp to settle down in, it was washed away and we were all really annoyed, sad, angry and so tired. We then faced a gruelling climb up a really steep hill to get back to where we started, the entrance of the forest.

If we learnt something it’s this; if you stumble across a suitable camp at the beginning (which we did) don’t carry on looking as you waste time and energy. An hour and a half later we were back at the first site that we found and started our camp. I was miserable but the joy of some warm mulled wine and a place to sit was amazing. I went inside the tent to change as our clothes were soaked and we discovered that all our belongings were drenched. I had a little cry because I was wet and couldn’t get my shorts up, sat in my tent with my shorts round my ankles looking a complete mess, the lowest I felt on the trip.

After I had changed and dried some clothes over a fire that we managed to build for about 5 minutes, Mark, Brent and Liam had made a little home. We had a toilet behind us using a tarp for privacy, another tarp as a rain-cover and a clothes line for our wet clothes fashioned out of our walking poles. We know that next time we have to pack all our belongings into separate bags before placing them into our rucksacks.

Due to having soaking wet clothes and having no way of drying them (our fire went out as all the wood was too wet) we decided that we had to go home. It wasn’t safe to stay in freezing cold clothes so we decided that the next day, we were going to head back.

7PIN IT!To keep this post from getting any longer I am going to write about day 2 in a separate post for you. I will be writing about some Dartmoor history in the next one as well and the second day, our journey back to the car, it really was the best day I’ve ever had and I can’t wait to share it with you.

Have you ever been to Dartmoor or any camping trips?

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